Great Britain, captained by former world No 4 Henman, take on Bulgaria on Friday in Sydney – despite current air conditions along Australia’s south-east coast raising health concerns for those competing in the tournament.
But Henman downplayed the issue, instead emphasising the suffering of those who have been affected by the country’s bushfires, which, since September, have killed 18 people and destroyed more than 1,200 homes across New South Wales and Victoria.
“In the context of what this country is going through with the bushfires and for us having to deal with perhaps slightly poor air quality, I think right there is the perspective,” the team captain said at the Ken Rosewall Arena in Syndey. “I don’t envisage it being a problem at all.
“Certainly our thoughts and hearts go out to the people that have been so badly affected, because it’s horrific. We will be prepared well and go out there and give it our best shot. At the end of the day, we are very lucky to be involved in a sport we love and for these guys and for me to being able to do it for a living.”
Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria’s player-captain, described the air quality in Sydney as “terrible” but insisted that “we’re all ready to play”.
“We are aware of it, but I think everything is under control,” the former world No 3 said.
“We saw a little bit on the news. We get the right information and suggestions from medical [advisors] and everybody. Everything seems to check out pretty good for us. We’re kind of happy that everything is [under] control right now, and nothing worse is going to happen. Obviously we’re concerned about that, but we’re all ready to play. Hopefully everything gets better as the days go by.”
“For weeks we’ve been watching the devastation caused by bushfires across Australia and the people affected are constantly in our thoughts,” said Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia’s chief executive.
“We want to help these communities in a meaningful way and will announce a number of fund-raising and support initiatives that will be rolled out across the ATP Cup, Australian Open and our other events over the coming weeks. Stay tuned for further announcements.”
Kyrgios, who has joined teammates in Brisbane for Australia’s first-round tie against Germany, announced on Twitter that he would be kicking off his fundraising by donating $200 per ace he hits across all events in the Australian summer.
“All the heartbreak this summer, it’s pretty tragic what’s going on, especially with my hometown, Canberra, being under a bit of smoke, the most hazardous smoke in the world,” he said. “But I’m sure that all these guys [his teammates] will be happy to help.”
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